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Delta Workers Excluded from Paid Sick Leave Win for Subcontractors

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Minneapolis - St. Paul Airport workers won a momentous victory Monday when the Metropolitan Airports Commission voted unanimously to give lower-wage workers paid sick time -- one hour for every 30 worked.

It's the first such decision the commission has ever made for a Minnesota airport, and it's definitely a big deal because now cabin cleaners, wheelchair pushers, and cart drivers won't have to force themselves to keep chugging along when they're deathly ill. The new subcontractor policy also allows paid leave in the case of sexual assault or domestic abuse, which is real humane of these folks.

Problem is, the Metropolitan Airports Commission has no say over airlines like Delta, United, American and others, so their full- and part-time employees can't cash in on the new regulations.

See also: Delta Fires Kip Hedges for Speaking Out on Wages, Inflames Labor Movement

Even so, it's a step toward winning other battles, like assembling a union, fair scheduling, and worker intimidation. Labor rights advocates like 15Now, which calls for a $15 minimum wage, would link the Metropolitan Airports Commission's policy to major protesting at MSP Airport last week over Delta's retaliatory firing of one Kip Hedges.

At the time, hundreds of picketers turned out in support of Hedges, a Delta baggage handler of 27 years who was fired for calling on the airline to share the wealth with its lowest-paid workers. Monday's paid sick leave gain won't do a thing for his former co-workers -- Delta employees currently receive seven paid sick days a year, and part-time ready reserve workers get none.

Kip Hedges

Kip Hedges

Still, Hedges hopes the Metropolitan Airports Commission's ruling would potentially open the door for talks of a union and a wage hike. It's just a shame that he had to take one for the team to get the ball rolling, but Hedges says just recently a former co-worker called him up offering to help out on his mortgage so he would have time to focus on campaigning for workers' rights.

"It's been extremely busy and it's not something that I asked for. It's been really stressful," Hedges said. "But a lot of people do want me in the game, and they've got my back."

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